As you prepare for your interview, remember that living with a disability has given you extra skills—skills that many employers value.
The more you prepare, the easier the interview will be. Take the time you need to practise how you’ll answer interview questions.
If you want to have a great job interview, you will need to think about many things in advance. Make sure you’re clear on what the employer wants, and whether you will be a good fit for the job. Be ready to answer lots of different questions, such as why you want this job and why you want to work for this employer in particular. If you can, scout out the building in advance to make sure you won’t have any difficulties finding or entering it.
As Sean describes in the following video, his disability actually makes it difficult for him to provide a traditional interview. If that’s the case for you, consider explaining the issue to HR in advance and proposing a different interview format, such as a written interview or a skills test, that better meets your needs. Help the interviewers understand the value that you will bring to the organization.
CBC News: People With Autism Recruited for Skilled Jobs [13:20]
Through interviews and analysis, this news item explores the growing number of Canadian employees with autism and the unique benefits they bring to their employers.
When to talk about your disability
It’s important to think about when you’ll tell your employer about your disability and what you will say. This is also known as disclosure. It’s your choice to do this, and your decision may depend on whether your disability is visible or invisible to other people.
Talking about your disability can help an employer make changes to the job or to the workplace to help you do well there. Just remember, in your interview, always talk about what you can do.
Plan how you’ll answer interview questions
Employers will ask questions related to the job, and they might ask questions that relate to your disability. Know which questions they can, and cannot, ask. Think about how you will answer questions about any support you need to do the job.
Look into the different types of interviews and find out which type you will have. A tricky thing you might be asked to do is talk about your weaknesses.
Practise how you will answer questions in your interview. You can ask your family, or a friend, to pretend to be the employer and ask you about yourself. Sometimes it also helps to look in the mirror as you practise.
Here are some pointers to help you plan:
- Talk about what you do well. Tell employers about what you’re good at—for example, how you brought a project in on time and on budget. Let them know how you can help them, to show that you’re the best person for the job. Talk about how you find different ways to get things done and how determined you are to do well. But don’t be afraid to talk about any weakness you feel you have.
- Turn things that may not seem good into something that works well (negatives into positives). How you talk about times or events in your life is important. For example, if there’s a gap in your job history that may not look good to an employer, you could say, “I took some time off after my accident to learn new skills so I could keep doing well at work.”
- Know why it’s a good idea to hire people with disabilities. There are many reasons why hiring people with disabilities helps employers. For example, it gives them more people to choose from when they need workers. It also lets others know that the employer cares about people. Be ready to discuss these benefits with the employer.
- Talk about what could help you do your job well. Changes made at a job, such as a wheelchair ramp or a special light, are called accommodations. You can take the lead and tell an employer how a change like this might help you. The goal is to have the employer see that you can do the job. If you bring your own accommodation, talk about it. If you would like the employer to make any changes, first check into programs like Disability Related Employment Supports (DRES) to find out how much a support might cost and if help is available to pay for it.
Did you know that it’s a good idea for you to ask the employer questions as well? It shows that you’re interested in the job, and it will help you decide if this job is a good fit.
Feel good about yourself
Lots of people get nervous before, during, and after a job interview. Here are some things that might help with nerves:
- Know what you’ll have to do in this job and how your skills will help you do well. Knowing you can do the job will help you feel confident.
- Talk to yourself before the interview with the right words. For example, saying, “I’m excited about this” will help more than saying, “I don’t think I’ll get this job.”
- Think about all the times you, and people you know, have found a job.
- Remember all the good things people say about you and your work—other people you have worked with, teachers, or past employers.
Take time to think about the interview questions, provide clear answers, and consider why you’re the right person for the job. And once the interview is over, don’t forget to write down some thoughts about how it went and send a thank-you note to the interviewer.
Do your best to stay positive as you look for work, even if it’s taking longer than you expected. If you have the skills to do the job and can focus the interview on what you do well, the employer will probably do the same.